Oil Spill Coverage Trending Down: PEJ

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the top story among a mix of media for the week ended July 4, but there are signs the story may be "losing some steam."

That is according to the latest Project for Excellence In Journalism's weekly news coverage index.

The story captured 15% of the news hole, down from the week before, when it had 23% for the number two spot behind the General McChrystal story. Two the environmental disaster commanded 44% of the news hole. It was the lowest percentage of coverage since April 19-25, when the oil rig first exploded and the underwater gusher began.

"The once-hot political narrative--the performance of the Obama White House in the crisis--has diminished," said PEJ in its analysis. "And while other developments could produce a spike in coverage, the relief well that may provide a breakthrough in containment is not expected to be ready until August."

The second biggest story -- 13% of the news hole -- was about fears of a fizzling economic recovery. Third, with 11%, was coverage of the Supreme Court nomination hearings of Elena Kagan, though that was only half the attention given to the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings last year at this time.

Number four at 8% was the story of 10 people in the U.S. accused of being part of a Russian spy ring, while Afghanistan was fifth with 5%, down from the 25% and the top spot it claimed the week before, thanks to the ousting of McChrystal atop the war effort there.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.